What is our purpose?
Ken DeRosa has an interesting series of posts on reforming education. I recommend reading through his thoughts. Here at the Daily Grind, the issue of purpose has arisen once again. Two events caused this line of thought.
1. Credit Recovery Program: Our school was awarded a grant to help students recover lost credit. When the implementation team presented this program to the staff, they stressed the "last resort" approach. Meaning, it would be clearly articulated to the students that this was a final chance to get that credit. The student would be responsible for their choices, and we would let whatever their choice stand. If a student enrolled but failed to complete attend--out. If a student enrolled and failed to complete work--out.
Today, I observed the two program leaders having a conversation with a student. This student was not doing work and had more or less removed himself from the program. The tone of the conversation was more like that of a beggar. These leaders were imploring the student to make better choices and return to the program. So much for student responsibility. The message I recieved: You messed up, but we'll fix it for you. Please, please, come back so we can justify all the money we're spending because we believe that a diploma is worthless and that our task in public education is to simply give all of you disadvantaged students a piece of paper that allows you to look like you actually learned something even though the minute you open your mouth the world will know you are an idiot which we don't see as even slightly diminishing the name of the school that is on that diploma. (wow, now that is a run-on)
2. Attendance Committee: Our attendance committee serves those students who passed a class but lost credit due to our attendance policy: 9 or more absences and the student loses credit. I watched as my peers returned credit to a student whose absence total in that class amounted to over 20 for first semester and over 10 this quarter so far. They returned credit for semester one, even though there is a clear pattern which has not changed and the "passing" grade for semester one was a 59.6. Why did they do this? They felt bad for her life situation and she really is smart.
So, I ask myself tonight, what is the purpose of teaching at this school? Why follow a curriculum, a standard? We're just going to make sure they get the credit anyway!